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I was running a game where a Sea Hag frightened a couple of my PCs. In a subsequent round, the Hag used her Death Glare, and a PC dropped to 0 HP. Almost immediately, our cleric cast Spare the Dying followed by Healing Word. We were unsure if getting knocked to 0 HP eliminated the frightened condition or not. The player argued it did, of course, but my gut felt like it didn't.

Because the hag was nearly dead anyway, and it wouldn't make much difference, I ruled in favor of the player. I've searched and can't find the answer. I'm probably missing something simple. What's the correct call?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ As an aside, why cast spare the dying followed by healing word? Why not just cast healing word? \$\endgroup\$ – Greenstone Walker Mar 15 '17 at 23:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ Excellent point! I didn't flinch at the time when the cleric did that. I think she was reacting to the other PC's death (and immediately thought: spare the dying). And as she reviewed her spells, realized she could also throw some HP her way. Even so, I'm not sure I put together that straight healing would work on someone with 0 HP. I guess, I really have to stop thinking of PCs as dying at 0 HP. Thanks for the clarification! \$\endgroup\$ – David Robinson Mar 16 '17 at 1:49
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The correct call is to quickly come to a decision and keep play moving, which you did.

Revisiting the rules, it appears that your gut is correct. From Appendix A: Conditions (SRD p. 192):

A condition lasts either until it is countered (the prone condition is countered by standing up, for example) or for a duration specified by the effect that imposed the condition.

Since the text for Frightened does not have a counter, we look at the Sea Hag's entry (SRD p. 323), which tells us that the creature is frightened for 1 minute (10 rounds), and that the only other ending condition is repeated chances to make the saving throw (albeit at disadvantage if the hag is still in view).

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  • \$\begingroup\$ 5e rounds are 6s each, yes. (PHB p. 189 if you need a cite, but I think it's uncontroversial enough you could just drop the note about it entirely.) \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Mar 15 '17 at 19:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ Wouldn't something "no longer be in view" if you're unconscious, and therefore, your eyes are closed and your brain is off? \$\endgroup\$ – Southpaw Hare Mar 15 '17 at 20:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SouthpawHare If the player was unconscious on his/her turn and was saving vs that effect (which I'm not sure if you do or not), then I would certainly not have the save at disadvantage. \$\endgroup\$ – Reibello Mar 15 '17 at 20:11
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Reibello I see. So, you consider the short amount of time that the person was unconscious for (less than a round that at no point encompassed their turn) to be significant here, and that perhaps it'd be different if they were unconscious through their turn? That makes some sense. \$\endgroup\$ – Southpaw Hare Mar 15 '17 at 20:15
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    \$\begingroup\$ In the case I presented, the PC was stabilized the following turn. But the above comments make me wonder how things may have played out had that not happened. I hadn't considered that while making death saving throws, they also might need to make saving throws vs. being frightened. Is that standard procedure then, if the condition does indeed persist at 0 HP? \$\endgroup\$ – David Robinson Mar 15 '17 at 21:10

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